Eric Johnson ’01 is getting a promotion after only one day at the office.

Johnson, who made his NFL debut as the backup tight end for the San Francisco 49ers in their opening game Sept. 9, will be given the starting nod when the 49ers take on the St. Louis Rams Sunday. Johnson called his parents when he learned the exciting news Tuesday, but then it was straight back to the grind.

“I sort of just got back to work,” Johnson said. “I knew I had more to prepare for Sunday’s game.”

In his professional debut, the former Eli standout caught four passes for 34 yards — three of them for key first downs — as San Francisco posted a 16-13 overtime victory over Atlanta. That performance, combined with the strong work ethic coaches have praised throughout his transition from a college wide receiver to a professional tight end, seemed to have earned him the starting nod.

“Take off the training wheels and let him go,” 49er head coach Steve Mariucci told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He works hard and we see him as a starting tight end in this league.”

In the Atlanta contest, Johnson lined up for slightly more than 50 percent of the snaps while sharing time with that game’s starter, Justin Swift. Johnson said he expects to see more playing time this weekend.

— Jeremy Licht